NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his Official Remarks at the Oath Swearing and Robing Ceremony to Welcome the New Medical Graduates of the University of The West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research, on August 22, 2022, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis noted that one of the best ways to ensure the good health and wellness of The Bahamas, was for there to be productive partnership between the Government and members of the medical profession.
“Given the role that doctors play, it almost goes without saying that you must be at the forefront of that partnership,” Prime Minister Davis said to the graduates, at the event held at Baha Mar Convention Centre.
“If ever we were ignorant before, through the experiences of the pandemic and Hurricane Dorian, none of us can be in any doubt as to the valuable roles you play in securing the health of our people,” he added.
Among those present at the ceremony were Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training the Hon. Glenys Hanna Martin; Minister of Health and Wellness, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville; former Prime Minister Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis; and Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Leon Lundy.
Prime Minister Davis said that The Bahamas should “never tire of saying ‘thank-you’ for all that doctors have done, and continue to do, to help our people.”
“But we know that doing so has taken a terrible toll on members of your profession,” he noted.
“We understand how doctors gave and sacrificed, through the bouts of repeated COVID infection, the overwhelm and near collapse of our healthcare system, the stress and mental burnout of long hours and limited resources, not to mention the long absences from loved ones,” Prime Minister Davis added.
He continued: “We also understood how, during the height of it, many felt under-valued and under-paid. This was why, as a matter of fundamental principle, one of the first acts of my administration was to resolve the issue of outstanding pay, which soured relations between the Government and doctors. I appreciate that many have been left feeling uncertain and demoralized, unsure that the Government will fully play its part in the partnership.
“As long as I am charged with the leadership of the country, you have my word that we will.”
Prime Minister Davis said that all people were truly at an inflection point in history, not just here in The Bahamas, but around the world.
Environmental, economic and political upheavals have challenged, and are changing the old way of doing things, he said.
“We cannot carry on as before,” Prime Minister Davis said. “For too long we have spoken of change – now is the time to act.” “We have already set in motion some of our plans to implement some big changes in health and wellness,” he added. “But first we need to get to grips with the basics.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that that even though they were basic, they still required substantial investment.
“For example, we are already investing in two new, state-of-the-art hospitals in Grand Bahama and New Providence,” he said. “This is a major step forward in upgrading the infrastructure of our healthcare.”
“We have also expanded the provision of specialist Family Medical doctors, so that we are well on track to ensure that every Government clinic has one, including those in the Family Islands,” Prime Minister Davis added.
“And we are also continuing to move towards the provision of universal health coverage.
This is a foundational change in the way Bahamians can access healthcare services.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out to the graduates that those “exciting developments were happening at that time, at the beginning of their careers.
“You have the opportunity to be a part of it, to help guide and shape the future, such that healthcare in The Bahamas can form part of each of your personal legacies,” he said.
Prime Minister Davis said that the Government was playing its part in providing a structure and framework to promote good health and wellness. “At each stage and step of the way, we must squarely answer the question: what is the right thing to do?” he asked.
“What can you do?”
Prime Minister Davis stated that he trusted that each graduate already had a vision for their career; that included how they help those who seeks their care.
“Apart from the personal, there is much that you can do to support national development,” he said.
“For example: social media has done much to undermine confidence in some established medical practices,” Prime Minister Davis added. He continued: “For many decades in this country, we have taken vaccines against polio, mumps, measles and so many of the viruses which killed millions of children and young people before us. These immunizations were part of a worldwide effort to wipe out the scourges that had afflicted generations. And yet the immunization against the Covid19 virus, one of the great, collaborative efforts of our time, is undermined by misinformation transmitted via voice notes and YouTube videos.”
“You can play a critical role in helping to restore trust, to promote evidence and reason,” Prime Minister Davis said.
He told the graduates that they could help their patients and the wider public to understand the best way forward.
“This is a small, but pivotal example of the impact that you can have,” Prime Minister Davis noted.
“In fact, you have already entered into partnership with the Bahamian people,” he added. “Through the Government subventions which supported your education, you have already agreed to give in terms of service to public health.”
Prime Minister Davis told the graduates that he hoped that the satisfaction of that obligation was not viewed as a chore, but as an opportunity to practice their profession among and on behalf of their fellow countrymen.
“In so many ways, The Bahamas – and, indeed, the whole world – is in need of healing,” he said. “By your oath and the symbolism of your white coat, I pray that you bring your best selves to play your part in that effort.”
“Congratulations, and thank you.”